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Tuesday, July 17
(...continued from previous page)
After a brief inspection of the little monument at the summit, we headed off to find the nearby rifugio, along with some cold, tall ones!
courtesy DBoyd
Our group on Monte Casale
Summit fields
Rifugio Don Zio
We located the rifugio - a trim little stone building in the classic style of rifugios in Italy - built of stone, with blue-and-white shuttered windows, and an outdoor deck. "Rifugio Don Zio, m.1600" was painted prominently along the front.

It looked closed.
Not wanting to believe, we circled around back, tried the doors, and examined the tiny bivacco room in the back. No one around, and more importantly - no water! We were basically out of the stuff, and ahead of us we had a long trudge back down to the car.

There was a sickly looking plastic tube leading down from the roof and with a sign saying 'acqua non potabile'. Even though it looked pretty rank, it was better to have some sort of liquid in case we really needed it, so I filled up one bottle with the stuff. Just in case we got desperate.

We could do nothing now except head down, so we started down the gravel road that served as the trail up to the rifugio. It was very pleasant up here on Monte Casale, with large open fields and gentle slopes.
Nino's house
After a few minutes of walking, we spied a quaint-looking mountain-chalet style house. Jenn and the others were keen for me to head over and beg..er..ask for some water. I in general do not like to bother or impose on people, so I resisted these requests at first, but finally gave in when the idea of paying the owner for some water was advanced.
courtesy PChen
Chatting with Nino
I approached the house, where the aforementioned mowing tractor was now parked. I introduced myself to the tractor driver and an older gentleman. I explained who we were and our predicament with the rifugio (which is when I was informed that the rifugio is only open on weekends). The two men, named Andrea and Nino, were father-and-son, and this house was the father's house.
courtesy PChen
Chatting with Nino
Nino, the father, was a burly Italian man of the most typical kind. He was jovial and friendly, and when I tentatively asked if we could buy some water from him, he immediately invited us to sit at his covered outdoor table, went inside the house and returned with several bottles of cold mineral water.
Welcome refreshments
We spent the next half-hour talking with Nino, who was most amiable. Since he could only speak Italian, and everyone in our group except for me could only speak English, I became the imperfect conduit for the entire conversation.

Nino explained that he was a retired 'gommista', or tire-repairman, and had a shop down in the town of Pietramurata (where we started our climb). He was retired now, and spent pretty much his entire time up here in his pretty mountain house. We asked him about where he lived during winter-time; apparently even then he lives here, accessing the house via snowmobile. Nino had visited Canada in the past, and had many nice things to say about his visit, including how good the meat was compared to Italy.

After emptying many bottles of mineral water (Nino had to go back into the house to get us more bottles!), the conversation wound down. Before we left, Nino insisted that we come over to a flower planter in front of his house, where he then proceeded to give each of us a 'Stella Alpina' flower, explaining that they were well-suited to being pressed between the pages of a book.
courtesy PChen
courtesy DBoyd
Picks from the planter
Picks from the planter
Nino's house
Nino refused to take any sort of money for the water, so we had to resort to subterfuge, placing a 5-euro note underneath one of the placemats on his table while he wasn't looking. What a jovial, friendly man, and what a pleasant visit this was.
With golden late day light illuminating the open fields of the summit of Monte Casale, we said our goodbyes and started on down, now substantially refreshed - both hydrologically and mentally. The first part of the descent route follows Nino's private road to his house (which also doubles as the path up to and down from the rifugio). After a while a trail junction is reached, and we head off south, on a track that led down into deciduous forest.
Starting down
Pleasant hiking
See that line?
A short while later we reached a side trail for something called 'acqua del duson'. This sounded like a spring, so we headed over to investigate. It indeed was a spring, but only flowing in with a small trickle of drops, and Jenn partially filled up her water bladder (it was too slow of a process to do much more than that). From the vantage point of the fountain, we could see where our descent route was located. It was a forested slope, but a very, very steep one. Rarely do you see such a steep slope that still has continuous forest cover. Any trail going down that was sure to be interesting!
Whoa! Down there
The trail led mostly on the level (past a junction leading down to the northwest) to the top of the aforementioned steep, forested slope, where a junction marked the start of the steep descent trail.
Steep, steep path
At this point, the route immediately starts down the steep slope, and continues down in this manner for a good long distance. The trail is actually protected with an almost continuous wire. Without the wire, the trail would be pretty challenging - and even with it, care is required.
Practically a ferrata
Partway down, Pu's camera bag unlatched, taking his camera and new lens on a bouncing little fall down about 100 feet (lots of cursing from Pu, too). Fortunately, the only casualty was the skylight filter on the front of the lens.
A final ladder
Carefully, slowly, and tiringly, we picked our way down the steepest forested trail I've ever hiked on. the bottom of the really steep stuff was marked by an old ladder with several missing rungs. Below that, the wire ended, and the trail continued down through the forest.
First intersection with forest road
Now only merely very steep (instead of ridiculously steep), the trail lost elevation rapidly, heading pretty much straight down the fall line of the slope. Eventually, the trail crossed an old forest road. This marked the start of a slightly confusing section, where the trail continues straight down the slope, crossing and re-crossing the switchbacking forest road many times. The guidebook had some instructions which said that one should turn left at a crossing of the road where a gate is visible, but this turned out to be incorrect (for us, anyway). In the end, we continued straight down the trail, keeping to the left at a branch on the trail somewhat below the location where that gate is located. This whole descent was tiring and rather unpleasant - we were getting thirsty again, and it had been a long day.
Forest road gate
In the end, the trail stops at the forest road, and in fact this forest road led back to Pietramurata, and the spot where we parked the second car, it turns out, is at the end of this forest road. So, I suppose if you were hopelessly confused, you could just follow the switchbacking road to its end. Have a close look at my interactive trackmap of this hike, so that you can map these directions to a drawn line and to various geographic reference points.
Finally... back at the car
If I had to do this route again, and I had two vehicles (or in any case, the ability to start and end at two different points), I would probably choose not to descend via this route, and instead descend to a trailhead on the west side of Monte Casale. The elevation loss would be much less and the trail much more pleasant to follow.
A look at Monte Casale
Tired and thirsty, we quickly shuttled back to the first car (parked at the parking lot near the quarry), and drove the 20-minute drive back south to Riva del Garda, where we had a quick freshen-up and then a long, pleasant, well-earned meal at a restaurant downtown.

If you'd like to read more about the Ferrata Che Guevara, please click here to go to my dedicated Via Ferrata page's route description.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Ferrata Che Guevara - Click map to expand
Elevation over Distance
Elevation over Time
Climbing Log for the Ferrata Che Guevara
Start Time: 9:23a.m.
End Time: 7:58p.m.
Duration: 10h35m
Distance: 9.5 km (5.9 mi)
Average Speed: 0.9 km/hr (0.6 mph)
Start Elevation: 848ft (258m) *
Max Elevation: 5364ft (1635m) *
Min Elevation: 847ft (258m) *
End Elevation: 945ft (288m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 4481ft (1366m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 4383ft (1336m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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